Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Goddess of Procrastination

Kelly blogged today about procrastination. What happened to me this morning was part procrastination and part stupidity. Allow me to explain:

This morning, at approximately 8:30 a.m. I went out to my car on my way first to the grocery store to pick up things for work, and then on to work. It was another cloudy, drizzly day, and as I turned the key in the ignition, I heard only an all-too-familiar sound - "click-click-click-click-click". Most of you have heard this sound. It's the alternator, and it means your battery is dead. I didn't leave anything on overnight, I knew that my battery had fought the good fight and was now gone.

But I don't know any of my neighbors. I don't have AAA. I don't have any friends in the area, and if I did, they'd be at work anyway. I had that sick "what do I do?" feeling in my stomach, and I went back inside my apartment. Do I call a service station? How much will that cost? Do I try the NRA-member-racist-pig-wife-beater-upstairs-neighbor, since his car was right next to mine? I thought to myself that perhaps it was the rain, and maybe something was wrong with the connections. Now, what are the odds that something would have spontaneously happened to the connections after seven years? Well, I was a desperate woman, clinging to hope. So I went outside to take a look. After I inspected my dead battery, and it was still dead, I saw a man across the parking lot from me. He looked at me, and then looked back, as if wondering if he should offer help. I made up his mind by asking "Can you give a poor girl a jump?" and he said "I'll be right back." [sigh] Thank god. I'm so shy to talk to people, I wasn't sure how I'd solicit the help of a stranger, but somehow I did it.

He came back, we hooked up his truck to my poor little car, allowed it to charge a bit and then it started right up. While we waited he told me about a place to get batteries where they take batteries that have been damaged cosmetically, re-label them and sell them for cheap. Sounded good to me, and off I headed to Ellis Batteries.

At Ellis Batteries I had the most pared-down consumer experience I've ever had. Usually buying batteries is just as bad as buying tires or, well, cars for that matter. You go in, and look at a wall of batteries (like you care what they look like) and get told a bunch of stuff that in the end doesn't really affect your driving experience that much, and then you get charged for the battery, and then you get charged for installation and then you get charged for disposal of the old battery, and then, well, you get the picture. In the end you pay a lot more than that sign on the wall next to the battery you decided on. Not at Ellis Batteries. There are no batteries on the wall, there are no signs on the wall, there are no choices. Wait, yes, there is one choice to make: New, Used, or Blemished? Used sounded like a Bad Plan, so I asked what the difference was between New and Blemished? "New is $75 and Blemished is $30." Well, put me down for Blemished, then. The guy wrote out a sales slip that said "Blem $30" and "tax $2.27" and "total $32.27". (He knew the tax amount off the top of his head. All of their batteries must be the same price.) I gave him my debit card, he charged $32.27 to it, and carried the new battery out to my (still running, I was too nervous to turn it off) car. I drove home and installed my new battery ('cause I'm a WOOooo-man). Most battery places won't let you get away with that crap. Most battery places give you a warranty. I'm not sure who's ahead here yet. I'm not sure if that was the stupidest or the smartest thing I've ever done, but I'm feeling lucky.

Back at my apartment, the guy who helped me in the first place saw me with the hood up and my tool box and asked me "What are you doing now?" and I said "Installing my new battery." and he said "They don't install them?" "No." "Need any help?" and I said in my most cheerful-I-do-this-all-the-time voice "Nope." and smiled demurely. I love freaking guys out with my tools. Replacing the battery was a pain, and took a while, but it wasn't difficult, and I didn't electrocute myself or accidentally arc-weld anything to my car. I should also mention that it was drizzling the whole time, and I didn't complain once. (There was no one there to complain to, but that's BESIDE THE POINT.)

Approximately a month ago, when I started writing this entry, I mentioned Kelly and procrastination - remember? Well sit up, we're getting to that part. For several winters now I've been meaning to replace my battery for the heck of it. I thought it would be a good idea, after all, they don't last forever. But it kept on running, and I never got around to it. I was procrastinating. Then a few months ago I noticed that my car wasn't starting quite as easily as it had in the past. I thought that it was probably the battery, since it was so old (remember when I mentioned "what are the odds that something would have spontaneously happened to the connections after seven years"? yeah. Car and battery - seven years old.) But my father didn't think that was probably it, so I replaced the spark plugs instead. It didn't make much difference, but I just resolved myself to the fact that my car is seven years old and has over 140,000 miles on it, and if it doesn't start quite as spunkily as it used to, well, neither do I, and we're both just aging, and I'm not going to hold it against her.

She starts like a champ now.


Suzie said...

You go girl!!

Anonymous said...

Girl Power! Way to go Beth!!! It's always so liberating to turn down help from a man & not regret it later! By the way, (this is meant with as much light heartedness as I can muster) not all NRA members are racist-wife-beating-pigs. (Just a little food-for-thought)

Beth said...

Oh dear. I should clarify. I definitely don't have a problem with people being NRA members. I dated one once. And I certainly didn't assume that because my neighbor has an NRA bumper sticker he is a racist pig or a wife beater. I know that he's a racist pig because of something he did to an African-American friend of mine who was visiting me. And I know he's a wife-beater, at least in principle, because I've heard him. I don't know if she's his wife or girlfriend, but the police have been a-callin' in the past. The NRA thing just added a little bit to the picture. There are a whole lot of other bumper stickers on his car, too. I could go on and on.